Kremlin gets telegram about downed Russian plane from Syria's Assad: Ifax

Geneva Stokes
September 20, 2018

He also said despite Russia's anger over the incident, Israel would continue to operate in Syria in order to fight Iran's activities in the country.

The Il-20 aircraft, with 15 Russians on board, was shot down by Syrian government on Monday after Israeli F-16 jets carrying out air strikes used the Russian plane as "cover".

It will also provide information on "Iranian attempts to transfer strategic weapons to the Hezbollah terror organisation and to establish an Iranian military presence in Syria", the statement said.

Despite not holding Israel responsible for the downing of the Russian jet, Putin warned that Russia will respond by "taking additional steps to protect our servicemen and assets in Syria", and Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov said that those will include deploying automated protection systems at Russia's air and naval bases in Syria.

Speaking to Army Radio, Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman made clear that Israel would not halt attacks in Syria.

Earlier this month, it acknowledged having carried out more than 200 strikes in Syria over the past 18 months, mainly against Iranian targets. It added that Israeli planes were already in Israeli airspace when Syria fired the missiles that hit the Russian plane.

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"By hiding behind the Russian plane, Israeli pilots put it in the line of fire", read a ministry statement.

Netanyahu on Tuesday expressed his "sorrow" to Putin in a phone call, offering to assist Moscow in the investigation.

The incident, according to Agence France-Presse, "was the worst case of friendly fire between the two allies since Russia's game-changing military intervention in September 2015".

Lebanon's Hezbollah guerrillas, who like their patron Iran have been helping Assad militarily in Syria, said Israeli strikes there would not prevent them getting advanced weaponry.

Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah announced Wednesday that his group will stay in Syria "until further notice", as he noted that "a lot" of Israeli airstrikes in Syria were not targeted against weapons shipments for Hizbullah.

As the war in Syria rages on, Turkey and Russian Federation announced on Monday a joint agreement that will at least forestall an expected large-scale on Syria's Idlib province, now the last area controlled by rebel military factions facing off against the Syrian government.

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